Community gathers to mourn Charleston victims, combat racism

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Students, faculty, and staff of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health gathered on June 24 at a vigil in memory and honor of the nine victims of the June 17 massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. The racially motivated killings at the historic black church shocked the nation and sparked widespread discussion and introspection about racism in the United States. In the spirit of unity with those who lost their lives and those who grieve, members of the Harvard Chan community gathered outside the Kresge Building, each holding a lit candle.

“We are here today to stand in solidarity with the families and community of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina,” said organizer Christine Mitchell, M.D.V. ’12, S.D. ’19. “We are here to remember the nine people killed by the act of racial terrorism there last week. We are here to remember that this act did not occur in isolation. We are here to remember that systems of hatred, racism, and white supremacy are all too real in this country’s past and present and that those systems motivated this attack. And we are here to recognize the role that we each play in confronting systems of racism in this country’s future.”

Following the remarks, nine designated members of the community each read the name and a short remembrance of one of the nine compassionate and loving individuals who were slain.